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P.E.I. potato farmer inducted into Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame


April 24, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

William (Billy) Hayden, a beef and
potato producer from Cherry Valley, P.E.I., was recently inducted into
the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

William (Billy) Hayden, a beef and potato producer from Cherry Valley, P.E.I., was recently inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Hayden was born in 1922 and grew up on the family farm in Cherry Valley, P.E.I. In 1945, he bought a 70-acre farm and raised a variety of crops and livestock. His first tractor was owned jointly with his brother, George. By 1963, Hayden had expanded his potato production to 27 acres, although he continued to harvest by hand with family help. The next year, he purchased a bagger digger and in 1965 built the first warehouse on the home farm. In 1966, with continued increases in potato acreage, the warehouse was expanded. The present warehouse facility on the TransCanada Highway in Cherry Valley was built in 1974.

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Hayden Produce is one of the leading suppliers of fresh potatoes to the market in Prince Edward Island. The farm grows approximately 1,500 acres and contracts other potatoes that it grades and packages. The operation also maintains a herd of 165 Hereford cows.

In 2003, the company installed a new traceback system that allows it to identify all products shipped with a code that lists when it was packaged, the field and warehouse it came from, as well as the chemicals and source of seed used to grow the product.

Hayden attributes hard work and a supportive family for the growth of the business. He was always been a very “hands on” farmer and, up until 2007, was still actively involved in grading potatoes. His two grandsons have now taken over day-to-day operations.

In nominating Hayden, the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture said he is “arguably one of the best farmers to have ever spent his whole life farming in Prince Edward Island.”

This is the second generation of Haydens to be inducted to the hall of fame. Hayden’s father, Lewis, was inducted in 1975. Lewis imported the first Hereford cattle to Prince Edward Island in 1911.

The hall of fame honours individuals for their contributions to the development of the Atlantic agriculture industry. Each year, based on nominations from farm and rural organizations, one person from each of the four Atlantic provinces is selected.